AIA out to debunk art myths

ARTISTS in Arms director Fran Voss says it’s a myth that people need to have a thorough knowledge of art to appreciate and buy it. Such misconceptions, she believes, only serve to intimidate many people from visiting art galleries and add to the perception of art as elitist, expensive and extreme. The Artists in Arms (AIA) foundation is hoping to break down these misconceptions and make art more accessible and affordable by bringing a diverse group of artists together at public exhibitions while raising money for charities Youth Focus and Mercy Ministries. Created by community minded artists and art appreciators nine months ago, AIA has attracted memberships from more than 60 artists, who produce diverse works ranging from traditional to contemporary and including acrylics, oils, watercolours, sculpture, ceramics, photography, jewellery and glassware. The first AIA exhibition, to be held from June 2-11, will use a donated exhibition space at the Allpike Motors showrooms in Mt Lawley to display hundreds of works. And with no gallery commission fee attached, the artists will donate the 30 per cent fee on the sale of the art to the foundation’s nominated charities. Ms Voss said engineering consultancy Calibre and patron Jack Rowley have provided the main support for the exhibition, while the Mt Lawley business community, including Luxe Bar and the Brisbane Hotel, had volunteered services and financial support. She said the idea to form a group of like-minded artists first arose when her husband Oliver Sage, a painter and sculptor, wanted to donate a large piece to charity two years ago. “All the artists are community minded and our membership has grown through word of mouth. Artists by nature work alone but many are now getting a lot out of meeting different artists, sharing ideas and networking,” Ms Voss said. Artist Karen Blandford heard about AIA a month ago through a friend and is very excited about joining the pool of talent and giving back to the community. Ms Blandford grew up in country Victoria and spent her high school years in Western Australia’s Pilbara, where the landscape made a powerful impression. After studying graphic design, Ms Blandford worked as an illustrator before winning awards and gaining recognition for her paintings, culminating in the inaugural Burswood Art award in 1998. Her works have since featured in exhibitions internationally and throughout Australia, and are now available through LK Galleries in Perth and Gunyulgup Galleries in the South West. Ms Blanford said artists often created thought-provoking pieces that raised questions about the world around them. “Many of us who have been in the game a long time get to the point where we need more than just sales, we need a purpose,” she said. Ms Blandford said the AIA acted as a resource centre, bringing artists out of isolation and, importantly, providing support and exposure for those who were struggling to be noticed, while also being a “vehicle” for artists to work closely with the community. AIA is planning to hold more exhibitions throughout the year, as well as launching cross-over programs with the youth charities it supports to get at risk teenagers into the centre to explore their feelings through art and make positive changes in their lives.

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